Welcome this week’s guest at Writerly Wednesday, James L. Hatch. If you want to see all of my Writerly Wednesday Guests go to http://writerlywednesday.com . Because some folks have nothing better to do than post ads as comments, I moderate posts.
James L. Hatch Website
Bio: Although my bachelors, masters, and Ph.D. are in chemistry and meteorology, I worked as a scientist and system/software engineer before retiring a third time, and then turned to writing. Extensive travel, from Thule, Greenland to Australia’s Great Barrier reef – and to dozens of countries in between – provide the real-life experiences I incorporate into everything I write. I enjoy boating, kayaking, skiing, traveling, hiking, tending nine grandchildren (no more than two at a time), and ballroom dancing, but my first love is writing. I have completed eight novels and one short story, and intend to continue writing in the Sci-Fi and paranormal comedy genres. I have contracts with xoxopublishing.com, Solstice Publishing and Eternal Press.
Blurb: The Substitute offers a hilarious romp through the final days of Miss Havana’s life, her trials in purgatory and her afterlife with Lucifer. Witty and spicy, it leaves readers in tears of laughter. Here’s the blurb: Miss Havana’s public persona was far from the truth because, in her capacity as substitute teacher, the small community where she lived knew her as the breathtakingly beautiful young woman who demanded every student learn, but in her private life, ostensibly caring for aging parents in Chicago, she raced through the lives of powerful men, leaving a wake of destruction…and a deep desire for revenge. Little did she realize her conflicted life would end in a chaotic death at an early age, and to eternal conflict with the devil. The surprise ending will leave the reader stunned and gasping for more.
Excerpt: The excerpt below is told from Lucifer’s point of view a short time after Miss Havana first appears in hell. She has not been there long enough to raise all Lucifer’s flags, but signs of trouble are appearing on a daily basis. The excerpt is taken from the first few paragraphs of The Substitute.
My patience wears thin for the blight known as Miss Havana. Those who mock me, the magnificent Lucifer, are inevitably rewarded with everlasting pain, and she is on extremely thin ice, assuming that phrase can be applied in my home. If she doesn’t rein in her insolent nature soon, she’ll learn the hard way I can be her worst nightmare.
She seems harmless sitting in the blue-black slime one step below the level of my feet with her empty-headed gaze fixed on Mr. Grossweed’s file while he shakes uncontrollably and wets himself, but I know the depravity of her soul. Contrary to popular belief, I do not relish the misfortunes of others, nor do I dwell on the unfortunate outcomes of individual choices. However, I must judge her someday, just as I judge Mr. Grossweed now, and that gives me pause.
I tolerate Miss Havana because of her delectable exterior and ironic view of eternal judgment, but I sense danger in her, an evil nature that forces me to continuously review the five years prior to her arrival here. She fascinates me. Even now I reflect on how this innocent-looking substitute teacher came to be enmeshed in my afterlife, if for no other reason than to steel myself against her antics.
She came to me from the great state of Illinois, where she frequently taught at the request of the Redmond School Board, but not a single student at Redmond High had the slightest idea why she insisted on being addressed as “Miss Havana”. She didn’t claim Spanish or Cuban descent, but she did insist on that name, so that’s what they called her, at least to her face.
Few knew her real name or much of anything about her except what they could see for themselves, which seemed more than ample. In fact, she embodied every young man’s dreams and even introduced some to the pleasures of puberty as they relished her magnificent form in slumber. Others, I freely admit, owed the strength in their forearms to her and her alone.
Miss Havana’s statuesque 36-24-34 twenty-six-year-old firm body, stunning deep-blue eyes, flawless complexion, and naturally blond hair that cascaded over perfectly formed shoulders aroused erotic dreams in most males. Females, on the other hand, focused on her soothing and melodious voice, immaculate make up, and fastidious nature, and many secretly trembled at her touch.
Despite her outward beauty, however, Miss Havana exemplified a sad fact of life that the appearance of a thing can be vastly different from the reality of a thing. Having earned a Judo black belt at the age of twenty, she dispatched the star quarterback who dared to defy her two years in the past, at least a popular rumor made that claim. Whether true or false didn’t really matter because the rumor itself reminded every student that none should attempt to touch the aloof Miss Havana in any way. According to an equally reliable rumor, she had never been available to anyone, and because she seemed totally uninterested in relationships of any kind, in some twisted way, added to her allure.
Impeccably dressed in form-fitting attire, Miss Havana’s eye-popping figure could put others to shame, even the abundantly endowed and inviting Miss November displayed in fleshy-effulgence on the pages of Jeremy’s favorite girlie magazine. Unlike the fetching Miss November, however, Miss Havana would stare down anyone attempting to ogle her.
Nevertheless, Jeremy could not help but dwell on Miss Havana’s physical appearance, being enchanted to the point of lust. He had plenty of company. She affected every male attending that school in a similar way, a fact reflected in private conversations where they simply called her “Wish”. Female students seemed equally caught up in her splendor, so much so that many imagined themselves lesbian, or at least bisexual. Truth be told, both genders perspired excessively in her presence, spilled their drinks when she approached, or simply became tongue tied when she called on them. On that score, Jeremy might have been right—it is difficult to talk when one’s tongue is hard.
In her capacity as substitute teacher, Miss Havana could be coveted in almost any class, but no student knew exactly when or where she might appear in the flesh, figuratively speaking of course. She drew students so strongly that, on some occasions, those with contagious ailments swabbed the doorknob to the teachers’ lounge with mucus, expressly intending to create the need for a substitute teacher. The odds favored the perpetrator because Miss Havana could manage classes ranging from home economics to algebra with equal ease, and might subsequently appear in any of them.
She delivered immaculately prepared lessons with crisp resolve, and easily kept her students’ interest. Something about the way she moved at the front of the class commanded the students’ attention, something almost sexual in the way she stood while writing on the chalkboard and in the way she shifted her weight from one knee to the other causing her long legs to rub together like a Samba dancer’s Cuban motion. Indeed, most students considered watching her move an education in itself.
Despite her delectable exterior and meticulous presentation style, however, a few students questioned the wisdom of having Miss Havana as a substitute teacher. She was eye-candy in the most delicious sense of the phrase, but she was also a strict disciplinarian and rigid educator who conducted class with the enthusiasm for order and obedience of Joseph Stalin. In that sense, she represented a dichotomy some students simply couldn’t comprehend, especially the males.
1. In three days, all power will go off, everywhere for a very long time. What will you include in your author survival kit? Ans: If I were at home, I’d include lots of water, canned goods, fishing gear, propane lighters, small animal traps, rifles and ammunition. If not at home, I’d also need boots, clothing and bedding, hatchet and cooking gear. In either case, I’d keep a large journal to record events as they unfolded.
2. Where did the idea for the work you are promoting arise? Ans: I woke up laughing one night about two years ago and immediately arose to write down the plot of the outrageous dream I had. The colorful dream concerned a beautiful substitute teacher, evil to the core, who, on being killed and going to hell, seduced the devil and eventually became his substitute. Over the past couple of years, the concept has been refined as I wrote three hilarious comedy novels based on it. I have two more comedy novels planned with the same characters.
3. What do you like to read? Ans: Comedy, Sci-Fi and paranormal themes. I don’t read pure romance stories or fantasy. Although some believe Sci-Fi and fantasy are the same thing, they are not. I also like a good thriller. I think the best book I’ve read lately is Chasing Amanda, a Solstice Publishing book by Melissa Foster.
4. Tell us about the most exciting place you have ever visited? Ans: Probably the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. The snorkeling was incredible. Second might be Chichen Itza, Mexico, because much of my novel Kill Zone was based in that area and on the Mayan culture found there. I especially relished the cenotes, and enjoyed seeing the karst topography first-hand.
5. What is the most mundane, day to day, thing you can share about yourself? My wife cooks; I do the dishes and vacuuming. Sometimes I think I wash 1,000 dishes a day.
6. What scares you the most? Getting really sick, like with cancer or a brain tumor. I admire people who have the inner strength to make it through those things. I don’t want to be tested.
From Sally – I do not want to be tested either. And I mean the stress of waiting for results coupled with the sudden knowing what what might take me out of this world.
I also fear total darkness. I need to see a light of some kind a star to guide me.
7. Tell us anything but keep it G-rated. Growing older is not the worst thing in the world. Yes, my bones and muscles ache more than they did when I was younger, but my friendships are stronger. Retirement is the best time of life. I love being able to write whenever I feel like it, and not having to rush out to work in the morning. As it is with friends when you approach your later years, it is also possible to grow closer to your wife than at any time in your life. It’s all good.
James L. Hatch Website
Keywords: The Substitute, The Training Bra, James L. Hatch, Solstice Publishing, paranormal comedy